Talking Time With A Friend

She held the doors to the past open, ready to let the ghosts in.

There was a reason why I did not attend my high school reunion. Bad memories still decorate my mind, and the ghosts of my past refuse to fade away. And I don't want to be reminded of the girl left behind or the ones that tortured her, and I did not care to see what became of my fellow graduates. But time still caught up with me.

A cold wind blew around a small café off Main Street. An elderly man sat back against the window, casually smoking his pipe. Cars paused at pedestrian signs, and couples walked their dogs past small, country stores. Fall was in the air, and the Apple fest was coming to Warwick. But today would be spent in reminiscence.

The waitress arrived at a small table decorated for Halloween. We were number 56 and placed right next to the large window. The girl across from me ordered nothing, but my stomach was rumbling for lunch. And a moe & tom sandwich in a spinach wrap with an apple juice was placed before me, but my appetite was about to be cut short.

She held the doors to the past open, ready to let the ghosts in. Her eyes sparked with significant memory, ready to tell all that had passed, but was I ready to take this trip down memory lane? There was a reason why I tried to leave the past behind me, why I left here, and I did not want to come back. But I hit a wall five years ago, and my life had since been put on pause.

A ghost walked across my mind. Memory struggled to capture her, but she eluded me. I knew we encountered each other, but that was so long ago. And my heart broke as I heard the tragedy that befell her, and my eyes fell down on an untouched lunch. And I pushed the plate away.

They lined up behind her, waiting for their story to be told, and every face triggered a memory, memories long thought buried fourteen years ago. And their stories were not uplifting, and karma was not so kind. One after another, they slipped away, lost souls walking back to lost lives, and I would never see them again. And they would never know me.

They would only remember the girl left behind. I could see her standing there in the shadows, staring back at me. She was listening to the conversations of an old friend, one of the few that she had back in the days, where she walked lost, and then I was found. And she became the ghost of me.

The girl sitting before me had been waiting a long time for this day. She had been looking for me since graduation, but as she followed the leads to my whereabouts, she only found dead-ends. I was gone without a trace, but she would never give up the search. And only recently did she come across my profile on Facebook, and here we sit today.

Her face was older, and her eyes were tired. Life had dealt her harsh cards, but she was a survivor. Her spirit would never break, but her body had been broken. And she sat back against her seat with her crutches nearby, staring at me, and waiting for my life's story.

What could I say to her? My life had been difficult, but it was nothing compared to what she lived through. I ran away from my ghosts, but she faced them head on. I tried to forget, but she remembered. I've lived my cycle of violence, but hers never began. She would not let life bring her down or repeat her trials over and over again. She was the fighter, the survivor not me, so what could I say to her?

Hours slipped away. Our eyes held each other, looking for the ghost lingering somewhere in the darkness. Her story was told, but mine was spoken only in silence. So many years had passed, but she never gave up. Hope kept her chasing after me, and I kept flying the kite of my dreams. And she saw it one day, flying high across the rainbow sky, and she knew she would find me.

We stepped outside into the chilly air. A cigarette was placed in-between her lips as she balanced herself on her crutches, and I watched the smoke escape out into the air. We took a seat at a small table near the street, and we sat in silence. The world passed us by, but time hung back, remaining beside us. And then it was time to go, and I drove her home.

The long, country road unfolded before me. I knew what lay behind me, but I never know what waits ahead. Every curve I encounter could lead to change, and my destination could alter course. But I drive on, ready for the unknown because I am done being chased by ghosts, and I check the rearview mirror to see if the past was following close. But all I see is empty road, my life unwritten, and my thoughts turn to her. Where do we go from here? Would I see her again? Would she try to find me once more, and the ghost of me rides shotgun, waiting for my answer? But I don't need to respond because I already know. I would see my friend another day in time.

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